Making the decision to leave your marriage or relationship can seem like an impossible choice. Knowing when or how you’re going to walk away can take months sometimes years. Sometimes it isn’t your decision at all and your partner makes it for you. Neither scenario is an easy one, but it can be the best thing that you ever did.
For me, it took over three years to work up the courage to leave my marriage. I knew the marriage had dissolved and I knew I wanted to leave long before I spoke the words. It was the most frightening thing I had ever done and the anxiety was overwhelming. I laid awake each night worrying about what it would do to my kids and how I would be able to support myself financially. I had been married since I was 20 years old and I had no idea what it would be like to be completely on my own. My mind would create every worse case scenario possible and it would send me reeling. There was a part of me that didn’t want to hurt him and I held on to the parts of him that I loved—trying to ignore the truth that I would never be able to trust him again. I made excuses for his behavior and thought that somehow I could overlook being mistreated because this time he was going to change. Until I realized the damage was already done and there was no turning back.
There’s a tipping point in every relationship when you realize that you are undeniably unhappy with this person. Sometimes it isn’t a betrayal or indiscretion…sometimes it’s an awakening from your soul that this person has chipped away at your spirit without you even realizing it. Emotional and psychological abuse can be insidious and undetectable at first. It can start with your partner giving you the cold shoulder because you went out with your friends or blowing up at you for spending money. Little by little they chip away at your confidence and the control gets more and more binding. Pretty soon you realize that your walking on egg shells to avoid an argument and your voice is silenced.
Having a partner that tries to control you is a clear sign that you are in a toxic relationship and it’s time to leave. You wake up one day and look in the mirror and realize that you don’t recognize yourself anymore. You’re a shadow of the person you once were or perhaps you never even got the chance to fully realize who you were in the first place. In these situations, you have to start to focus on yourself and use your voice. Letting someone dictate where you go or who you spend time with, is a sign of an abusive relationship and there is very little you can do to change them. You have to leave…not only for yourself but for your children. Teaching them that this type of relationship is normal is only hurting them in the long run.
Other reasons for leaving may be much more subtle. You may have grown apart and finally realized that opposite might attract in the beginning, but in the long run you’re just two completely different people. You feel like your both living two separate lives and your more like roommates than soulmates. The decision to leave this type of relationship can be equally as difficult because it’s comfortable and being on your own can seem way too scary. This type of relationship usually leads to an affair because you need to feel something again. You need to feel desired and loved.
Whatever the reason you have for leaving your marriage, you are faced with the impossible questions of “when is the right time and how do I know I’m making the right decision?” The answer to that question is that you already know. If you find yourself thinking about leaving your marriage and fantasize what it would be like to be free of this person…it’s already over. You just have to find the courage to do it. Yes, it will be painful and possibly one of the hardest things you will ever do, but you will be okay. You will suffer through the hard times but you will survive and you will find yourself once again.
The one piece of advice that I have for you is this…make sure you have done everything in your power to save your marriage, so that you can walk away with a clear conscious knowing you did everything you could. Don’t walk away for selfish reasons. Marriage is hard work and it takes two people that are willing to compromise to make it last. Only when you feel that you have done all you can and your partner hasn’t met you half way can you truly know that it was time to go. Don’t compromise your own happiness for someone who takes you for granted or tries to manipulate you. You deserve so much more than that. Take that leap of faith and know that everything will work out just fine. Living in limbo and struggling with the uncertainty is far worse than walking away. I remember feeling as if I was walking around in a fog just going through the motions. If you’re feeling this way, then do yourself a favor and just rip off the band aid. You’ll see that the wounds will heal and your new life will begin. One day you will be able to look back and see that it was the best gift you could ever receive.